2 Thessalonians 2:11
For this reason, God will send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie,
Sermons
AntichristR. Finlayson 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
The Man of SinB.C. Caffin 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12
The Methods of the Man of Sin and the Retribution that Overtakes His VictimsT. Croskery 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
The Love of the TruthW.F. Adeney 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12
Choice Influences BeliefG. Sexton.2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
God and ErrorG. Sexton, LL. D.2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
God's Logic of SinJ. T. Wightman.2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
Ill-Disposed Affections Naturally and Penally the Cause of Darkness and ErrorR. South, D. D.2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
Judicial InfatuationJ. Hutchison, D. D.2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
Natural Law in the Spiritual WorldG. Sexton.2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
Punishment According to LawH. W. Beecher.2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
The Infatuation of the Followers of Antichrist2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
The reason for the doom of those who are to be destroyed at the second coming of Christ here given, is that they do not receive the love of the truth.

I. GOD EXPECTS US TO RECEIVE THE LOVE OF THE TRUTH.

1. Truth is good in itself. Truth is to the soul what light is to the body. It is natural for men to love the day, unnatural for them to shun it. In a right and healthy state we should love truth simply as truth, whatever else it be.

2. Christian truth is peculiarly attractive. Scientific truth is beautiful, philosophic truth is valuable; but the truth of the gospel has far deeper attractions, because it contains revelation of the love and fatherhood of God, of the grace and goodness of Christ, of the redemption of the world, of the way of salvation, of the heavenly rest, etc.

3. Truth should be welcomed with love. We cannot accept it to any advantage until we love it; for

(1) love opens our eyes to a sympathetic understanding of it, and

(2) love saves us from a cold, barren acceptance of it, and helps us to receive it profitably.

II. IT IS AN EVIL HEART THAT PREVENTS MEN FROM RECEIVING THE LOVE OF THE TRUTH. St. Paul traces back the bad condition of those who reject the love of the truth to the fact that they "had pleasure in unrighteousness." The pleasures of sin cannot exist side by side with the love of the truth. Evil hates the light (John 3:19). Moral corruption has no sympathy for the lofty thirst for truth of a pure soul. Hence it may be concluded that indifference to truth is a sign of moral evil. The corrupt life is a false life, and its departure from truth reveals the baseness of the character beneath. This is why the rejection of the truth is culpable. Intellectual doubt is of quite a different character. Indeed, it often arises from genuine love of truth, while self-satisfied orthodoxy is often quite indifferent to verifiable facts, preferring respectable error to painful truth.

III. THE PENALTY OF REJECTING THE LOVE OF THE TRUTH IS INCAPACITY TO KNOW TRUTH FROM ERROR. God punishes men in this condition by sending "them a working of error, that they should believe a lie." This is an awful fate. Truth is too precious a pearl to be cast before swine. They who do not love it shall not have it. Liars become incapable of knowing truth. The habit of indifference to truth so grows upon some people that the whole idea of truth becomes obscure and meaningless to them, and they ask with Pilate, half bewildered, half scornful, "What is truth?" Is not this a veritable destruction - the spiritual eye blinded and burnt out by the fires of falsehood and unrighteousness; the highest intellectual faculty, that of grasping truth, killed by corruption and falsehood? God save us all from this hideous doom! - W.F. A,







And for this cause God shall send them a strong delusion that they should believe a lie
follows upon wilful perversity and obstinate unbelief. God sends, not shall send (Authorised Version), still less "permits to be sent." It has the full force of the vivid prophetic present, "a working of error," i.e., a working in them which issues in the increasing destructive power of error; the hardening of Pharaoh's heart is the parallel which suggests itself. It lies in the nature of God's moral government and in the moral constitution of man, that sin, indulged, weakens the strength of resistance, and so invites and prepares the way for the more frequent and violent assaults of temptation. Thus yielding to sin receives at last its punishment in the slavery of sin. The working of error has its aim in this that they should believe the lie, as opposed to the truth just indicated. Man must believe something — if not the truth, with all the blessings which its reception brings, then the lie of the devil with the doom pronounced upon it. Unlike the Thessalonian believers who had "every desire of goodness," who had their pleasure in goodness, and their desires ever reaching forth towards its increase (2 Thessalonians 1:11), these unbelievers have their pleasure in evil. They have said to it, "evil be thou my good." Hence with "the son of perdition," whose adherents they are, their end is destruction.

(J. Hutchison, D. D.)

Of all the fatal effects of sin none is so dreadful as that every sin disposes for another and a worse. By gradations sin arrives at maturity; it is the only perpetual motion, and needs nothing but a beginning to keep it going.

I. HOW THE MIND OF MAN CAN BELIEVE A LIE. There is such a suitableness between truth and the understanding that the latter of itself can no more believe a lie than a correct taste can pronounce bitter to sweet. If a lie is believed it can be only as it carries the appearance of truth. Before there can be an appearance there must be an object and a faculty, and from one of these must spring all falsehood. But the object cannot cause a false appearance of itself, and therefore the difference must rest in the perception. Objects are merely passive. Truth shows itself to be truth, and falsehood falsehood, whether men apprehend them so or no. What, then, are the causes on the believers part which make any object to appear what it is not.

1. An undue distance between the faculty and its object. Approximation is necessary to perception. Distance in space hinders corporeal perception; moral distance hinders spiritual perception of God and His worship.

2. The indisposition of the intellectual faculty which follows from sin. Where the soul has deviated from the eternal rules of right, reason, and morality, it is in darkness, and while in darkness it must necessarily pass false judgments upon most things that come before it. The understanding, like some bodily eyes, is disabled from exact discernment, both by natural weakness and supervening soreness.

II. WHAT IS IT TO RECEIVE THE LOVE OF THE TRUTH.

1. To esteem and value it. Truth must first be enthroned in the judgment before it can reign in the desires.

2. To choose it as a thing transcendently good. To esteem is an act of the understanding; to choose of the will. This is the proper and finishing act of love. The great effect of love is to unite us to the thing we love, and the will is the uniting faculty, and choice the uniting act. Till we have made religion our fixed choice it only floats in the imagination; but it is the heart which must appropriate the great truths of Christianity. Then what was before only an opinion passes into reality and experience.

3. This will help us to understand what is rejecting the truth. Not because men think it false, but because it crosses their inclination. The thief hates the day; not but that he loves the light as well as other men, but he dreads that which he knows is the likeliest means of his discovery. The great condemnation that rests upon the world is that men see the light but love darkness, because their deeds are evil.

III. HOW THE NOT RECEIVING THE TRUTH INTO THE WILL AND AFFECTIONS DISPOSES THE UNDERSTANDING TO DELUSION.

1. By drawing off the understanding from fixing its contemplation upon an offensive truth. For though it is not in the power of the will when the understanding apprehends a truth to countermand its assent, yet it is able to hinder it from taking that truth into full consideration. If a man has affections averse to the purity of the truth they will not suffer his thoughts to dwell upon it, but will divert them to some object that he is more enamoured with; and so the mind lies open to the treacherous inroads of imposture.

2. By prejudicing the understanding against the truth — the understanding in that case being like the eye which views a white thing through a red glass. This was how the Jews rejected the Saviour. They saw His miracles and heard His words through the medium of, "Is not this the carpenter?" "Can any good come out of Nazareth?"

3. By darkening the mind, which is the peculiar malignity of every vice. When wise men become vicious their wisdom leaves them. The ferment of a vicious inclination lodged in the affections is like an intoxicating liquor received into the stomach, from whence it will be continually sending thick clouds and noisome steams up to the brain.

IV. HOW GOD CAN BE PROPERLY SAID TO SEND MEN DELUSIONS. "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all"; and what is not in Him cannot proceed from Him. But God may be said to send delusions.

1. By withdrawing His enlightening influence from the understanding. The soul is not otherwise able to exert its intellectual acts than by a light flowing in upon it from the fountain of light. How reasonable, then, that God, provoked by gross sins, should deliver the soul to infatuation by a suspension of this light.

2. By commissioning the spirit of falsehood to seduce the sinner (1 Kings 22:22; 2 Corinthians 4:4). How dreadfully did God consign over the heathen world to a perpetual slavery to His deceits! And the truth is where men under the gospel will grow heathens in practice, it is but just with God to suffer them to grow heathens in their delusions.

3. By a providential disposing of men into such circumstances as have an efficacy to delude. He may place them under an heterodox ministry or in atheistical company, throw pestilent books in their way, all which, falling in with an ill-inclined judgment, and worse ordered morals, will recommend the worst of errors. And, therefore, as we find it expressed of him who kills a man unwittingly, that God delivers that man into his hands (Exodus 21:13), so when a man, by such ways as these, is drawn into false belief, it may be affirmed that God sends that man a delusion (2 Samuel 17:11, 12, 14; Ezekiel 14:9).

4. By His permission of lying wonders. Thus when Pharoah hardened his heart against the will of God, God permitted him to be confirmed in his delusion by the enchantments of the magicians. And so with the lying wonders of the Church of Rome, which confirm the legends imposed for truth upon her deluded members.

V. WHEREIN THE GREATNESS OF THIS JUDGMENT CONSISTS.

1. In itself.(1) That it is spiritual, and so directly affects the soul. The judgments affecting the body are insignificant in comparison.(2) It blasts the peculiar perfection of man's nature, his understanding; for ignorance and delusion are the disease of the mind, and the utmost dishonour of reason; there being no sort of reproach which a man resents with so just an indignation as the charge of folly. If slavery be that which all noble spirits abhor, and to lose the choicest of nature's freeholds, the reason, be the worst of slaveries, surely the most inglorious condition that can befall a rational creature is to be governed by a delusion (John 8:82). And, besides this, it has a peculiar malignity to bind the shackles faster on it by a strange unaccountable love, for no man entertains an error but he is enamoured of it.

2. In its effects.(1) It renders the conscience useless. A blind watchman is a nuisance and an impertinence, and a deluded conscience is a counsellor who cannot advise, and a guide who cannot direct (Matthew 6:23).(2) It ends in total destruction. Every error is in its tendency destructive. Hell is a deep place, and there are many steps of descent to it; but as surely as the first gloom of evening tends to and ends in the thickest darkness, so every delusion persisted in will lodge the sinner in the blackest regions of damnation.

VI. WHAT DEDUCTIONS MAY BE MADE FROM THE WHOLE.

1. That since the belief of a lie is a sin it is not inconsistent with Divine holiness to punish one sin with another (Romans 1:24, 26), and no punishment is comparable to this.

2. That the best way to confirm our faith in the truths of religion is to love and acknowledge them.

3. That hereby we may be able to find out the true cause of —

(1)Atheism.

(2)Fanaticism.

(R. South, D. D.)

Sceptics never tire in quoting this text, to prove, if they can, that God sends delusions to deceive mankind, and that men are doomed to everlasting perdition for what they could not avoid, simply because the Almighty so willed it. But the infidel's interpretation of the passage has been read into it by himself. Its real teaching is eternally true. There are four points in it to be considered by us.

I. THE CLASS OF MEN REFERRED TO.

1. They "believed not the truth." There is a rejection of the truth which arises from ignorance, and some excuse is to be made for it. But there is also a wilful rejection of the truth. Men close there eyes to the light, and grope in the darkness by their own free choice. Reason is made blind to give eyes to prejudice and passion, and excuses are invented, not so much to justify their conduct to others, as to salve their own consciences. In this way they smother the truth, until they come thoroughly to reject it.

2. They "had pleasure in unrighteousness;" or, better rendered, "were well pleased in the unrighteousness." They not only practised unrighteous acts, but they took pleasure in doing them. Regardless of the law of God, which is the standard of righteousness and the basis of morality, they revelled in sinful delights.

II. THE DELUSION TO WHICH THEY WERE SUBJECT. The Greek term translated "delusion" is literally "the inworking of error." The expression is a very important one, and shows the source and mode of operation of the error. The whole thing is internal, and is opposed to the inworking of the Holy Spirit. Men pursue an evil course until they come to believe it to be right. Look at that fine boy who is just leaving his home for the workshop or the college. He has been brought up in a pure family, surrounded by all that is good and pious. But the first day in his new surroundings words fall on his ears which horrify him; these, or similar, he will hear again and again, until they cease to affect him. Then, and at a later stage, he will himself indulge in coarseness and profanity with the rest, and perhaps become the very blackest of all that black company. The inworking of sin and error will destroy conscience, and that most fearful of all states be reached in which no remorse be experienced, but rather pride in sin. Man very largely moulds his own character, and with it his beliefs; and very often, alas if he comes to "believe a lie," and his doing so is entirely his own fault.

III. THIS DELUSION, OR INWORKING OF ERROR, IS SENT BY GOD. Does error, then, come from God? No; but He abandons men to it when they have wilfully and persistently broken the law of righteousness, just as they fall into disease of body when a natural law has been violated.

IV. THE PURPOSE OF THE INWORKING OF ERROR. "That they might be damned." This seems a most terrible doctrine, and hundreds have cavilled at it to the danger of their own souls. "Condemned" is certainly a milder word, but with very much the same meaning. - He that believeth not is condemned already." But the original word is better rendered in the Revised Version — "judged." The Judge of all the earth will do right; but that very right may involve most fearful consequences. If the inworking of error goes on till the judgment comes, it will be an awful calamity to that man in whom it occurs. When the Divine judgment is passed there can be no dissentient voice, no sympathizers with the condemned, and even the heart of the criminal himself will bear testimony to the righteousness of the sentence.

(G. Sexton, LL. D.)

1. Every one who takes pleasure in unrighteousness is under a strong delusion.

2. Every one who is under a strong delusion believes a lie.

3. Every one who believes a lie has rejected the truth.

4. Every one who rejects the truth will be judged by God.

5. Every one who shall be judged by God shall be damned.

6. Therefore every one who receives the truth as it is in Jesus shall be saved (ver. 13).

(J. T. Wightman.)

I. THE AUTHOR. God is not and cannot be the cause of evil. The avenger of sin cannot be the author of it. With sin as sin God has nothing to do, but with sin as a punishment of sin God has to do.

1. To understand this concurrence we must not say —(1) Too much, lest we leave a stain on the Divine glory. He infuses no sin, and conveys no deceit; these belong not to God but to man or Satan.(2) Nor too little as that God's judgments of blindness of mind (John 12:39, 40), and hardness of heart (Exodus 4:21), are simply said to be so because foreseen, or inevitable, or barely permitted. Besides all this there is a judicial sentence which is seconded by an active providence.

2. God's concurrence may be thus stated.(1) His withdrawal of the light and direction of His Spirit (Deuteronomy 29:4). A greyhound held in by a slip runneth violently after the hare when it is in sight; as soon as the slip is taken away the restraint is gone, and his unbred disposition carries him. So men that are greedy of worldly things are powerfully drawn into errors countenanced by the world, when God takes off the restraint of His grace. In this God is not to be blamed. Voluntary blindness brings penal blindness; and because men will not see they shall not.(2) His delivering them up to the power of Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4) as the executioner of His curse (1 Chronicles 21:1, cf. 2 Samuel 24:1). Temptations come from the devil, but they are governed by God for holy ends (1 Kings 22:22).(3) His raising up such instruments and objects as meeting with a naughty heart do blind it.(a) Instruments (Job 12:16; Ezekiel 14:9). For man's ingratitude God raises up false prophets to seduce them that delight in lies rather than in the truths of God.(b) Objects (Jeremiah 6:21). If we will find the sin, God will find the occasion. If Judas will sell his Master, he shall not want chapmen to bargain with him.

II. THE DEGREE OR KIND OF PUNISHMENT. "Strong delusion," the prevalency of which is seen in —

1. The absurdity of the errors.(1) Adoration of images (Psalm 115:8; Isaiah 44:9-20).(2) The invocation of saints, a thing against reason, because they are out of the reach of our commerce, and against Scripture which always directs us to God by one Mediator, Christ.(3) Works of supererogation (Luke 17:10).

2. The obstinacy wherewith they cleave to them. In spite of Scripture, reason, and evidence of truth, they still cry the opinion of the Church and their forefathers; like the Jews, who denied the clearest matter of fact (John 8:33; Jeremiah 44:16-19).

3. The efficacy of the causes.

(1)The withholding of Scripture.

(2)Gain and ambition (Acts 16:19-21, 25).

(3)Pride and prejudice which will not disavow a welcome error or acknowledge an unwelcome truth.

III. THE EFFECT. The belief of a lie.

1. The object: a lie, that is either —

(1)False doctrines (1 Timothy 4:2).

(2)False miracles in their legends.

(3)False calumnies against Protestants.

2. The act: given up to believe a lie. Some are doubtful, some almost persuaded, some espouse the common prevailing opinions, some adhere to them with much false zeal and superstition.

IV. THE USES.

1. Information.(1) To show us the reason why so many learned men are captivated by Antichrist — the delusions of Satan. Four causes may be given.(a) Self-confidence. God will show the folly of those who depend on the strength of their own wit (Proverbs 3:5, 6; 1 Corinthians 1:19).(b) Prejudice. The priests and scribes could readily tell that Christ was to be born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:4-6), yet who more obstinate against Him who was born there?(c) Pride. Many Jews believed on Christ, but would not profess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue (John 12:42, 43).(d) The judgment of God. (Luke 19:41, 42).(2) To show us that the prevalency of this wicked one is no blemish to providence; for permission of Him is one of God's dreadful dispensations. Hereby God would show us —(a) That there are deceits and errors as well as truth in the world, much of choice, not chance.(b) That although it is a great evil to be deceivers, it will not excuse us if we are deceived (Matthew 15:14).(c) What need there is to pray not to be led into temptation.(d) To fear to slight the grace offered (Deuteronomy 28:28).

2. Of caution to take heed of spiritual infatuation that this judgment fall not on us. Take heed —

(1)Of sinning against the light (James 4:17).

(2)Of hypocrisy in the profession of the truth (Proverbs 26:26).

(3)Of pride and carnal self-sufficiency (2 Chronicles 32:31).

(4)Of following the rabble (John 4:20; Proverbs 24:13, 14).

(T. Manton, D. D.)

This believing a lie does not necessarily denote intellectual, or what are called speculative errors, but perhaps refers more particularly to moral questions. And yet intellectual belief is not to be excluded. "The inworking of error" is potent here also. Much nonsense is talked in these days about irresponsibility for opinions. "A man always believes according to evidence," it is said. So he may, and yet it may be his own fault that more evidence was not obtained. In one of the numerous debates that I have held with leading sceptics, my opponent said that God could not be just if He punished him for his opinions, because he had used every means in his power to arrive at the truth. Then said I, "You are the first man in this world who ever did." I am sure no man can say before God that he has let no opportunity go by for learning the truth; that he has left no available evidence unexamined; that he has allowed no chance to escape him which might have been used to profit. Belief is largely influenced by the will. Don't let us forget that. Man very largely moulds his own character, and with it his beliefs. Every man has a free will, and by his voluntary choice he makes habits which become permanent. These constitute his character. In the end he comes to "believe a lie," and his doing so is entirely his own fault.

(G. Sexton.)

"God shall send," or more correctly rendered, "God sendeth" — that is, He is ever sending. Spiritual laws are as certain in their operation as those which regulate material things. Indeed, material things and the laws of matter are but symbols of the deeper and more abiding spiritual realities. Does error come from God? No, but He abandons men to it when they have wilfully and persistently broken the law of righteousness, just as they fall into disease of body when a natural law has been violated. There is no help for this. It is in accordance with the eternal truth and righteousness of God. Why do our bodies suffer, if we commit acts of excess? Not because God wills that we should so suffer, but because the suffering is a necessary consequence of the violation of His laws. It is His means of directing us aright, and, if we fail to obey Him, the consequences must fall upon our own heads. The laws of nature are inexorable, and cannot be broken with impunity. Let a man ruin his constitution by dissipation, and, although God may forgive him for the sin, he will carry his diseased and enfeebled body to a premature grave. The pardon does not undo the consequences of the wrongdoing. "The inworking of error" necessarily carries with it its own penalty — a penalty stamped on it by God. Thus God does not directly send the delusion, but "the inworking of error" is as much one of His laws as gravitation. A man may close his eyes to the natural light, or live for years in darkness, and the result in the end will be blindness. Does God send the blindness? Directly, no. Indirectly, yes; for it is the violation of His law that caused it. So if we close our eyes to the spiritual light, we shall become spiritually blind, and live in darkness, mistaking the spiritual things that surround us; in other words, we shall be deluded. God sends this delusion, that is, it follows the evil course of doing what He has prohibited, and not doing what He has commanded.

(G. Sexton.)

I have a clock, as very many have, which was made to meet certain exigencies of the future. It has a calendar which points out the day of the month, the hand moving one figure each day. If the month has 31 days, it moves from that to the 1 for the next month; but if the month has but 30 days, the hand jumps over the 31, and on February it moves from 28 over the 29, 30, and 31 to the 1 of March. But once in four years it stops at February 29, and then moves over two figures to the 1. Now, we do not have to run to the maker when these changes are needed, and ask him to come and move the hands. He knew the exigences would arise, and arranged for doing the work at the time he made the machinery. So the Lord has arranged His laws of the earth in such a way that they punish certain sins. The punishment is from the Lord, but He need work no miracle to bring it. Men defy the laws of health and cleanliness, and a pestilence breaks out, or contagious diseases rage. Men oppress their workmen, or kings rule with hard and selfish power, and rebellions and insurrections break out, and the oppressors lose far more than they seemed to gain.

(H. W. Beecher.)

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